Atelier Van Lieshout, Wellness Skull, 1995
Rotterdam-based design collective Atelier Van Lieshout is critically acclaimed for its subversive creations which transcend the categories of sculpture, furniture and interior design. Their large-scale polyester installations parody the functions of the human body, mapping its latent and manifest sexuality with overblown, truncated and distended parts. Wellness Skull represents the highpoint of this provocative aesthetic. The human skull – universal symbol of knowledge, wisdom, evolution, and eternal token of fugitive life – is transformed into a centre for indulgence and relaxation. The upper cranium houses a fully working sauna and the lower section offers a bath/shower facility. The pierced eye sockets provide ventilation on the inside, whilst delivering a dramatic haze of steam when viewed from the outside. Commenting on the bizarre functionality of this giant memento mori., Joep van Lieshout, founder of the atelier, states: 'the heavenly power is the big unknown, the death of the hereafter, the skull of the physical shell of the mind. The earthly power is an economical power. Money plays an important role in our contemporary society. Gradually faith loses all importance and is replaced by an alternative 'self experience', through travelling, sporting and wellness centres.'
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